Nuclear reprogramming occurs during cloning, stem cell differentiation and cancer development, but the molecular mechanisms involved in this process remain unclear. In May Nature Biotechnology, Anne-Mari Häkelien and colleagues from University of Oslo, Norway, show that the functional reprogramming of a somatic cell can be achieved using a nuclear and cytoplasmic extract derived from a different somatic cell type.

Häkelien et al. used an in vitro system based on the incubation of nuclei or cells in a somatic cell extract. They observed that exposure of human fibroblasts to extracts from T cells and from lymphoblastic leukemia Jurkat-Tag cells activate several T cell-specific genes and functions, including CD3, CD4, TCRαβ chanins and IL-2 receptor synthesis. In addition, following exposure to a neuronal precursor extract, the fibroblasts expressed a neurofilament protein and extended neurite-like outgrowths.

These results "may allow identification of molecules central to biological processes as diverse as...

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